Monday, April 28, 2008

Ack, Stop Eating My Files!!

My new laptop decided to crash the other day, while I was out somewhere. When I discovered it and tried to restart it, it went into super-buzz mode, until it was vibrating like a massage machine. I had to turn it off, take the battery out, and let it sit for a bit. But when I started it up again, my computer told me it couldn't run Windows, and proceeded to start a system restore, back to two weeks ago.

I panicked of course, and asked my computer-geek older brother what to do about it. Not to worry, he said, pointing to the finer print on the dialog box. It would only backtrack on settings and maybe programs, not files. But when it finished and started up again, I got into my WIP documents and discovered that EVERYTHING I had written in the past two weeks (a good 4-5000 words) was non-existent, gone without a trace. It was only then that I realized with that horrid, sick, sinking feeling that it's been months since I last backed up my work. Needless to say, I blew up at myself and the evil computer and turned into a mess of panic and tears.

Fortunately, my computer-geek brother promptly came to the rescue and showed me that I could restore my system forward again, reverting back to that same morning. I started the process and fled, to prevent myself from harboring violent intentions toward the innocent-looking machine. When it finished, I was almost afraid to look at my writing files. Fortunately, I did, and everything was there again. Whew, talk about huge relief.

The first thing I did was to email every single writing file I've updated since last year to myself on Gmail, a long overdue step toward sane computer usage for a writer. I'd been copying the files to other computers on the family network, and making CD or DVD backups when my old computer let me, but I didn't have any email copies before now.

So the moral of the story? Anything can happen to a computer, even a shiny new one, and it tends to happen just when you can't can't CAN'T afford to lose your writing files because you haven't backed up in a while.

What do you do to backup those writing files of life-or-death importance?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Excerpt from Hidden Underground

Susan Adrian posted a lovely snippet from her WIP on her blog, and suggested that some of us follow suit with short snippets of our own from the chapter we're working on at the moment, just for the fun of sharing. So here goes! :)

Here's an excerpt from Hidden Underground, my historical YA set in WWII Poland. I pulled this from the chapter I'm currently editing, set sometime in October, 1939. Heidi is visiting the town closest to her village, for the first time since the Wehrmacht arrived.

Hidden Underground
Copyright 2008, J Rose D.

A motorcycle screeched toward her as they raced across the street.

“Heidi!” Alina’s shriek echoed in the church doorway. Something grabbed her foot, sending her sprawling—a beer bottle. She closed her eyes to shut out the sting of her skinned knees. When she opened them again, the ground around her was strewn with beer bottles.

In the dark interior of the church the icons lay in a shambled heap among the bottles—twisted, ripped, falling. At her foot, the portrait of Saint Irene was separated from its frame, disfigured by a black bootprint across the face and crown. Cloths, yellow candles and oil lamps had been thrown about from the wooden altar and iconostasis. The ornate censer hung vandalized at the end of a single chain.

“My God,” she whispered. “Why?” She pulled the ends of her close-fitting sweater over her hands. Dizzy—the weathered walls and littered street changed angles. By her side, Alina was shaking.

“Come on.” Johann touched her arm with a gentle firmness. “There’s nothing we can do.”

“Shh.” There it was again—the stifled sobbing. “Someone’s in there.” Heidi navigated her way through the dark, with Johann and Alina close behind her. A chink of broken glass crunched under her shoe, and an old woman’s startled cry answered from the side of the altar.

“Pani Kusiak!” Heidi and Johann exclaimed at the same time. Pani Kusiak, in a Greek Orthodox church? She was an adamant Roman Catholic, and as far as Heidi knew she’d never set foot in here in her life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I've been tagged!

Sarah tagged me to carry on a new meme going around by writing six random things about myself.

The rules:

a. Link to the person who tagged you.
b. Post the rules on your blog.
c. Write six random things about yourself.
d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.
f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things about me:

1.) Whenever someone shakes hands with me, I wait for the inevitable question that follows. "Your hands are cold." My hands are always cold, and they turn freezing cold when I write, for some reason. Apparently my body boxes up any bit of coolness it has and sends it to my hands (I just realized that the wording of that statement could take on another meaning, lol.)

2.) I know Persian well enough to instant message and write long letters in it in both the Latin and Arabic alphabets and I understand 9/10's of what Iranian or Afghani native speakers say online. But I freak out when I get opportunities to actually speak it, probably a consequence of having learned it online (my pronunciation is good, so I've been told, but I don't have the confidence yet.)

3.) People find my accent hard to pin. Usually they ask if I'm British, but sometimes their curiosity turns into a wild guessing game skipping all over Europe--Russia, France, somewhere in Eastern Europe. Few people actually guess that it's a mix of Californian and Australian, picked up from my mother. She grew up with Australians and we children took on her accent, while she dropped it completely.

4.) When I edit my writing I can see whether I have the right balance of dialogue, description, and action in a scene by checking how it "looks," without actually reading it. If the balance doesn't look right, I mark it with "@@" and go back and fix it when I hit a block somewhere else.

5.) I'm an immigrant rights activist. I live in a racist neighborhood in a very divided rural town, so when I do flyering for protests or other events, the mostly Mexican immigrants here are surprised that a white person would get involved in their cause.

6.) I can be a terrible procrastinator sometimes. But once I get going, I'll stick to the task obsessively until it's done, usually blocking out everything else. I get things done twice as fast with a deadline as without.

And now I randomly tag:

Jenny Meyer